Home Run Page 6

Christian clenched his fists to his side. He’d turned her away, why did it hurt so bad to think about her?

With two beers and a glass of champagne already floating in his system, Chris sat down for dinner next to his sister. Thank God for bread, because once they passed around another flute of champagne he was expected to stand up and give a nice speech. Worse, he was expected to do it again tomorrow night—a different speech.

Clara patted his arm. “You’re up.”

Chris’s mouth went dry and he licked his lips as he stood. He was supposed to be prepared, but he wasn’t. Couldn’t Warner, his professional performing brother-in-law, give the speech?

He cleared his throat. “Ed and Darcy. Well, we made it to this day. I don’t know about you, but it seems as though you’ve been planning it forever.” Everyone laughed and he loosened the tie his sister had tightened again. “I love you both and I’m so glad you found each other.” He cleared his throat again. “Darcy, you are a wonderful addition to our family. And I don’t just mean our little family. I mean all of the Keller/Benson family.” He watched her dab a tear from her eye. “Ed, you’re a pain in the ass.” Again, everyone laughed. “But I can’t think of a stronger man I’d like to follow though in this life.” He held his glass high. “The best to you both—forever.”

Everyone applauded and sipped their drink. Chris noticed his hand shook and he downed the golden liquid just to numb himself.

It was then he was reprieved from being the center of attention when his cousin Tyler walked through the door.

The gasps and sobs continued as Regan flew from her seat and toward her son who, almost two years earlier had abandoned the family, to find himself, after learning that Darcy was the sister he’d never known about.

Christian sat back down in his chair and let the room swarm around Tyler. He was much more comfortable with that. He’d take his moment with him. He understood feeling lost. But Chris had to admit, he was glad to see him again.

Tyler joined them for dinner in the private dining room and Christian was able to relax into his chair and no one seemed to notice him.

After dessert, he took his glass of water out onto the veranda and watched the people who gathered under the atrium.

“You look far away, cuz.” Tyler slapped a hand on Chris’s shoulder and left it there.

“It’s nice to see you.”

Tyler rested his arms on the railing and looked down at the people below as Chris was doing. “I’m not quite ready to come back.”

“Everyone misses you.”

“I’m dying not being around everyone.” He turned and leaned against the railing looking into the room where their family celebrated. “I’ve really tried to think about what my mom was going through when Darcy was born. For Darcy’s sake, she did the right thing by giving her up for adoption.”

“So what’s holding you back from forgiving her completely and coming home?”

Tyler shrugged. “She kept it from us and that hurts. I get it, God, I get it. But…”

“I know.” Chris turned and leaned against the railing next to his cousin. “If you do decide to come back I have a lot of space in my house. You’re welcome to stay.”

Tyler chuckled. “So you and Tori?”

“Old news.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. She was something really special.”

Didn’t he know it? He thought about the hotel they stood in, and the memory of their first date played in his head. They’d gone to his Aunt Simone’s fundraiser and his best friend had set him up with his sister-in-law. It hadn’t taken long for him to fall in love with Tori. Making it even funnier was the thought that he’d met Darcy that night too.

Chris sipped his water. “I can’t be a father to her niece and nephew. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what has happened in my life in the past few years.”

“It can only get better, right?”

He hoped so.

Tyler moved from the railing. “Well, even if things don’t work out in the forever department, maybe you can still be friends.”

“That’s what I’m hoping for.”

“And who knows, maybe I’ll take you up on that extra space.”

Tyler gave him a nod and went back into the room with their family.

Chris let out a steady breath. He’d already decided that friendship was possible. Yeah, he’d start with that.

~*~

Victoria looked in the mirror and turned her head from side to side. She hadn’t realized how much she’d let herself go over the past year, until she’d been spoiled with a facial and an eyebrow wax. Even nearly a week later, she still looked refreshed. She studied her manicure. She’d managed to keep it intact too.

Sonia looked at the dress that hung in the doorway to the bathroom. “I can’t believe they bought you a dress for the wedding.”

“Look at the price tag. That would have set me back a month.”

“It wasn’t about the price, Tori.”

“I shouldn’t even be going to this wedding. This is all crazy.” She pulled her hair into a tail on the top of her head and wrapped a band around it. “I don’t belong with them anymore.”

Sonia shook her head. “It would kill you not to go. Besides, I expect to see a picture of Christian in a tux.”

The image was seared in her mind of what he looked like in—and out of—a tux.

Sonia leaned against the doorjamb. “So you’re taking Scott?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Couldn’t you find someone safer?”

Victoria laughed and turned to her friend. “Safer? Why do I want safe? I want sturdy and reliable. I want employed and well balanced. I want a father figure for the kids. Safe? I’m trying to move on. This is just a few hours away from the reality that the best man isn’t mine anymore. So I think Scott is as safe as it gets.”

Sonia held up her hands as if to surrender. “Got it. I’d better head home and take my monkeys before they get your two more riled up.”

Sonia turned and headed down the hallway to collect her kids from the family room. Victoria followed, yawning as she stepped over toys which had been scattered through the house.

Sonia’s kids gathered their things and they headed toward the door.

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